Public Release: 

No link between epilepsy and criminality

Prevalence of epilepsy in prisoners BMJ Volume 324, p 1495


It has long been believed that people with epilepsy are particularly prone to violence and criminality, but a study in this week's BMJ finds that epilepsy is no more common in prisoners than in the general population.

Fazel and colleagues reviewed seven surveys based on clinical interviews of 3,111 prisoners. All respondents were sentenced inmates, with an average age of 29. Ninety per cent were men, and 22% had been convicted of violent offences.

Only about 1% of the prisoners reported a history of chronic epilepsy. The prevalence rate in general populations is also approximately 1% for men aged 25-35 years.

"These findings reinforce our conclusion that the available evidence provides no good support for the alleged link between epilepsy and criminality," conclude the authors.


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